California Hospital News Roundup for the Week of April 19, 2013
Community Memorial Hospital, VenturaÂ
Community Memorial Hospital plans to launch a residency program in July for new doctors seeking careers in family medicine, internal medicine and orthopedics, the Ventura County Star reports.
The osteopathic program will focus on the musculoskeletal system and on treating the entire body, rather than isolating itsÂ different systems.
Hospital officials said the program aims to help offset the state's growing physician shortage (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 4/13).
Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, Martinez
Last week, clinicians at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center urged hospital administrators to expand the emergency department to address overcrowding and long wait times, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Doctors said the ED -- which is equipped with 18 exam rooms -- is treating more than double the 30,000 patients it is designed to accommodate annually.
In response, administrators said that expanding the ED is only part of the solution. They said the hospital also should increase access to primary care services and look for more efficient ways to provide care (White, Contra Costa Times, 4/12).
Corona Regional Medical Center
A vote to unionize nurses at Corona Regional Medical Center still has not been certified more than three months after the election, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports.
In January, nurses at the hospital voted 155-116 to join United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals. The hospital exercised its right to object to the election.
Thor Causing -- a representative of the nurses union -- said the hospital has claimed that nurses "were coerced to vote for the union by doctors and other nurses."
Neil Warheit, an agent for a labor union board, said that the final decision on the election would be made by a federal district court (Fischetti, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 4/12).
Novato Community Hospital
On Monday, the California Nurses Association announced that it has reached a tentative agreement with management at Novato Community Hospital, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
The proposed three-year agreement -- which covers about 85 nurses -- would end lengthy contract negotiations that began nearly two years ago. A final vote on the proposal is expected as early as next week (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 4/15).
Pacific Hospital of Long Beach
FBI agents are investigating Michael Drobot -- owner of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach -- for allegedly operating a kickback scheme that involved paying physicians thousands of dollars for each spinal surgery they referred to the hospital, the Wall Street Journal reports.
California anti-kickback statutes prohibit the act of paying money to induce patient referrals. The practice also is illegal under federal law if it involves Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries.
Drobot has denied paying kickbacks to physicians, and FBI officials have declined to comment on the investigation (Carreyrou, Wall Street Journal, 4/16).
Tri-City Medical Center, Oceanside; Palomar Health System, San Diego County
Tri-City Medical Center and Palomar Health System -- both independent public district hospitals -- are seeking new partnerships amid financial challenges, the U-T San Diego reports.
Palomar Health reported a $34.9 million loss from July 2012 through February, and Tri-City recently announced a budget adjustment that pushed it to a loss of $7.4 million two-thirds of the way through the current fiscal year.
Tri-City CEO Larry Anderson suggested thatÂ the hospital was working on a new collaborative agreement, but said the deal is not ready to be announced.
In addition, Palomar CEO Michael Covert toldÂ the facility'sÂ board in September 2012Â that he had visited Loma Linda University Medical Center and UC-San Diego Medical Center to discuss possible partnerships (Sisson, U-T San Diego, 4/13).
Washington Hospital, Fremont
Washington Hospital might be preparing to change a policy at its Center for Joint Replacement that permits orthopedic surgeons to practice only if they meet 24 criteria set by the hospital, the San Jose Mercury News reports (McGlone, San Jose Mercury News, 4/11).
Observers have criticized the policy, under which only two orthopedic surgeons are permitted to practice (California Healthline, 3/29).
Last week, at least six patients of surgeons who do not meet the criteria were permitted to recover in the facility.The patients were admitted as state officials said that federal officials have joined an investigation of the hospital's policy (San Jose Mercury News, 4/11). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.